The faithful in St. Anthony Church hold their candles during the Exsultet: the proclamation of Easter.
The faithful in St. Anthony Church hold their candles during the Exsultet: the proclamation of Easter.

Kathy and Bob Watson had not been to the Easter Vigil Mass in their parish of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony, Hamilton, since 2019 and were glad to be among the faithful gathered in their parish church on Holy Saturday.

PHOTO GALLERY: Easter Vigil- St. Anthony Church, Hamilton

“It’s just a beautiful way to celebrate Easter. The Easter Vigil is unique; it is both solemn and joyous at the same time. It fills my heart with joy,” Kathy shared.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., celebrated the April 8 Mass in English and French, wrapping up a Holy Week schedule that brought him to seven different communities around the Diocese. The Easter Vigil Mass in St. Anthony Church was concelebrated by Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio, pastor, and Father Pierre-Michel Alabré, parochial vicar.

Those gathered in St. Anthony Church united their joy-filled prayers with Catholic Christians throughout the world as Bishop O’Connell blessed the Easter fire and lit the Paschal Candle. From the flame of the Paschal candle, the darkened church quickly became illuminated as the faithful’s candles were lit one by one, through the sharing of the flames. 

By candlelight, Msgr. Gervasio sang the Easter Proclamation, also known as the Exsultet.

In his homily, Bishop O’Connell stated, “We can trace the development of those writings and traditions tonight in the readings selected for the Easter Vigil: from the creation story and the call of Abraham in the book of Genesis, to the liberation of the chosen people of God, Israel, in the Red Sea, through the prophecies of Isaiah, Baruch and Ezekiel, salvation history is mapped out for us, leading us to the promised Messiah.

“Jesus of Nazareth is Jesus the Christ, the Messiah – everything that had been said and predicted about him had been fulfilled, had come true.  My sisters and brothers, the Lord Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.  That is what we celebrate tonight.  That is what joins us with baptized Christians throughout the world.”

The Bishop also blessed the baptismal water and sprinkled the congregants with that water following the renewal of their own baptismal promises.

While there were no members of the parish receiving their Sacraments of Initiation at the Vigil Mass this year, the prayers of the faith community were with their brothers and sisters in faith who were being welcomed into the Catholic Church that night in parishes from all four counties in the Diocese.

For Ray Murphy, having Bishop O’Connell celebrate the Easter Vigil with his parish community accentuated the already special Mass.

“Christ is risen!  Everything just comes together at the Easter Vigil. You get the whole understanding of the meaning of Easter. From the beginning of the Mass when they bring in the Paschal Candle right until the very end.  It brings to light everything that we believe in. We were very blessed to have Bishop O’Connell celebrate this with us,” Murphy said.

Fellow parishioner Lea Novak concurred. “I love all of the readings and I love how the Mass begins in darkness; how the candles are lit and how they travel throughout the dark church. It’s just so moving. The Easter Vigil is a deeply profound and mystical Mass.”